As we are entering the festive season, we need to remember that downtime is important after a busy year.

In a work environment, ‘downtime’ can sound like a dirty word. Throughout the year we overdo, overwork, and overproduce. It is critical to give your brain a break! Our brains do require a rest now and then. Researchers have found that taking breaks can improve your mood, boost your performance, and increase your ability to concentrate.

For example, have you ever gotten stuck while doing a crossword puzzle, set it aside, and then come back and solve it easily after a break? That is no accident.

When we don’t give our minds a chance to pause and refresh, it doesn’t work as efficiently. As a result of not taking breaks, you might experience burnout and the health problems that go hand-in-hand with chronic stress. Our brains are like any machine, they need rest.

Many think a break can be disruptive but taking a break doesn’t mean your brain has totally checked out. And don’t confuse “downtime” with “leisure activities.” Doing brain-stimulating activities such as going to the museum, doing a puzzle, reading a book, or catching up with a friend – these are wonderful ways to spend your free time, but they are not true downtime activities. In order to let your mind wander and activate, you need to do less. A lot less! You ideally need to sit and stare into space. If you are not one to sit and stare, try mindless tasks, like vacuuming or weeding the garden. The goal is to pick something that doesn’t require your brain to do much work.

Remember that taking a break is important because there is an upside to downtime.